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ClaudiWing Dyer looks various native plants for sale during 13th Annual Native Plant Sale held GibsWoods County Park Hammond Saturday

Claudia Wing of Dyer looks at the various native plants for sale during the 13th Annual Native Plant Sale held at Gibson Woods County Park in Hammond on Saturday May 4, 2013. | Charles Mitchell~For Sun-Times Media

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With the onset of mild weather, those with green thumbs turn to their garden blueprints. Recently, many of them could be found browsing flowers, plants, shrubs and trees at the 13th annual Native Plant Sale at Gibson Woods.

Sponsored by the Wild Ones organization, the annual sale focuses on utilizing greenery indigenous to this area.

“I come here every year to add to my garden,” said Hammond resident Harriet Murphy as she looked among the various prairie grasses. “I’ve found so many benefits to using native plants that my entire garden and yard have items I’ve bought at this sale.”

Native plants have become very popular due to the fact that they are easy to care for with low maintenance. They attract butterflies and make for a very attractive display because many varieties are available. These plants also adapt well to the local environment, requiring less fertilizer and water than regular plants.

Wild Ones members greeted customers during the sale and offered planting advice.

A rule of thumb is to begin planting greenery around May 15, according to member Sherry Kubiak.

“People get the itch when the weather is nice. This is a little early to start planting, but people are buying today as they get their items ready for when they do begin,” she said.

When choosing greenery items, gardeners should pay attention to more than just the pictures showing what it looks like in full bloom, Kubiak added.

“It’s important to note the amount of sun/shade needed, the type of soil, height of the plant, when exactly it blooms, and how long the blooms last,” she said. “Not all flowers bloom at the same time.”

An example is the Trillium Spring Ephemeral. It pops with color only at a certain time in spring, and lasts not more than two weeks. This popular flowering plant sold out one hour after the sale began.

Sisters Kathryn Garth and Katie Martin work together to map out their yards each spring, deciding what to add from the yearly Native Plant Sale.

The Merrillville women spent quite a bit of time looking over the trees and shrubbery. “These local sales are great for retirees like us,” Garth said. “Prices are right and we all could use some tips on how to make our yards look better.”

Martin agreed. “I took up gardening when I retired five years ago and there’s always something new to learn,” she said. “I can’t get enough of these native plants and shrubs.”

Gibson Woods Wild Ones is a local chapter of Wild Ones, Native Plants, Natural Landscapes. Developed in 2000, the volunteer group has helped educate people about the benefits of using native plants. Through chapter activities, guest speakers, and meetings, attendees have learned the many aspects of incorporating native plants into their own landscaping.

For more information about the Wild Ones organization, call 844-3188.



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